Feb. 27, 2015
FAMILIAR FACE RETURNS:
Boston College returns to the Compton Family Ice Arena this weekend, a building the Eagles helped dedicate on Nov. 18, 2011 as No. 4 Notre Dame downed No. 3 BC, 3-2 in overtime when Bryan Rust scored with 1.1 seconds remaining. The Irish have by far the most history against the Eagles of any Hockey East rival. Friday night will be the 38th meeting between the sides with BC holding a 19-16-2 edge. The series began in December of 1969 and, since 1995, the teams have met every year except for two (1999-2000 and 2005-06). BC dominated the first half of the series, going 14-7-2 against the Irish from 1969-2002, but Notre Dame has ruled the rivalry since, going 9-5-0 since 2003, including a 3-2-0 record last year against BC. The teams last met in the 2014 Hockey East quarterfinals with Notre Dame claiming a best-of-three series at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, upsetting the top-seeded Eagles. Notre Dame and Boston College did not play a standard regular-season weekend series last year, instead meeting on Jan. 4 at Fenway Park (a 4-3 Eagles win) and March 1 at Conte Forum (a 2-1 Notre Dame victory in overtime).
ABOUT THE EAGLES:
Boston College stands at No. 9 in this week’s USCHO.com poll with a 19-10-3 record (11-6-3 in Hockey East). BC is ranked ninth in the all-important PairWise rankings. The Eagles last played on Monday night, winning a snow-delayed Beanpot tournament consolation game against Harvard. The Eagles currently are in second place in Hockey East with 25 points, just two ahead of Notre Dame, which stands tied for third place alongside Providence College and UMass Lowell with 23 points. The Eagles tied UMass Lowell, 2-2, last Friday night in its lone action of the weekend. BC has seen a balanced attack this year with six players recording at least 20 points but none more that the 27 of Alex Tuch. Ryan Fitzgerald leads BC with 14 goals. Eight players have hit double digits in assists, led by 17 from Michael Matheson. Sophomore Thatcher Demko, a second round pick of the Vancouver Canucks last year, has a 2.23 goals against average and .924 save percentage between the pipes for BC.
For the third consecutive week, freshman goaltender Cal Petersen received a weekly Hockey East honor on Monday and this week it was the league’s most esteemed honor – the Warrior Hockey Player of the Week. Petersen had been named the league’s Defensive Player of the Week on both Feb. 9 and Feb. 16 after his performances against Maine and Providence College, respectively. Petersen stopped 78 of 82 shots at No. 2/3 Boston University, helping Notre Dame become the only team this year to take points from the Terriers twice. Petersen stopped 44 shots in a 3-2 win on Saturday night and blocked 34 shots in Friday’s 2-2 tie. The four goals scored by BU, Hockey East’s top offense, marked its fewest against any team this year in a weekend series. Petersen has stopped 191 of the 199 shots he has faced in February, a .960 save percentage that is second in the nation in the month of February. After Petersen, the next-best Hockey East netminder since Feb. 6 is Providence’s Jon Gillies who stands 28th at .928.
Cal Petersen has made a habit of starting strong during his current run of great goaltending. Petersen has stopped his last 60 first period shots, carrying a 92:37 shutout streak in the opening stanza. Notre Dame last yielded a first period goal when Maine’s Connor Leen scored at the 7:23 mark on Feb. 7. This has helped Notre Dame outscore its opponents 33-21 in the first 20 minutes of games this year, by far its largest margin of any period.
IRISH SCORE 100 GOALS:
Vince Hinostroza’s third period game-winning goal on Saturday night at No. 2/3 Boston University was Notre Dame’s 100th goal of the season. The Irish are one of 11 teams nationally to have scored 100 goals on the 2014-15 season and one of three in Hockey East, joining Boston University (113) and UMass Lowell (108).
The Irish enjoyed one of their better performances of the season last weekend, taking three out of four points on the road at No. 2/3 Boston University’s Agganis Arena. The Irish became the first team this year to take points from the Terriers twice, tying BU, 2-2, on Friday night before posting a 3-2 victory on Saturday. BU lead Hockey East, and ranked second nationally, averaging 3.75 goals per game entering last weekend but tallied just four times, its lowest mark all season for a weekend set against the same opponent. Notre Dame’s weekend in Boston continued a torrid streak against the Terriers as the Irish are now undefeated at 5-0-2 in their last seven matchups with Boston University.
BJORK BJORK BJORK:
Anders Bjork’s game-tying goal with 3:43 left in regulation on Friday night extended his scoring streak to six games. That streak ended on Saturday, but since assisting on a goal in Notre Dame’s Jan. 31 win over New Hampshire, the Boston Bruins draftee has three goals and six assists for nine points. The nine points tie for 12th in the nation since Jan. 31 and stand tied for the second-most nationally among freshmen behind only BU’s Jack Eichel’s 10. One of the players ahead of Bjork for overall point scoring since Jan. 31? His teammate Vince Hinostroza (4-9-13).
Notre Dame will recognize its five senior student-athletes and three senior managers prior to Saturday night’s game against BC. Joe Aiken, Eric Johnson, Robbie Russo, Peter Schneider and Austin Wuthrich, along with managers Matt Buche, Shannon Carpenter and Kari Quinlan, have seen the Irish go 81-61-13 entering this weekend’s games. They were a part of the 2013 CCHA championship team along with a 2014 Hockey East semifinalist squad and helped the Irish to NCAA tournament appearances each of the past two years.
Notre Dame has clinched hosting a round of the Hockey East postseason. The exact weekend will not be known until the conclusion of this weekend’s games around the league. Currently, Notre Dame is tied for third in the Hockey East standings but would hold the number five seed for the postseason due to tiebreaking scenarios. If Notre Dame finishes in the top four of Hockey East, it would earn a first round bye and play host to a first round series winner March 13-15 in a best-of-three quarterfinal series. If Notre Dame were to finish between fifth and eight places, the Irish would play host to a first round series March 6-8 at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Game times would be 7:35 p.m. EST on Friday night, 7:05 p.m. EST on Saturday night and, if necessary, 7:05 p.m. EST on Sunday night. Notre Dame has secured a high enough standing to not have to travel for first round play. Tickets are available both online at UND.com/BuyTickets and over the phone at 574-631-7356.
RUSSO RUSHES TO THE TOP:
Defenseman Robbie Russo leads all blueliners nationally with 12 goals and is tied for third in the nation with his 30 points. Russo’s 12 goals are already the seventh-most for an entire season by a Hockey East defenseman since 2002-03. He has the only hat trick in the country this year for a blueliner and the only one in Hockey East since at least the 2011-12 season.
PLAYING WITH POWER:
Notre Dame’s power play unit sprang to life beginning with the Jan. 10 game against Western Michigan. The Irish scored a power play goal in eight consecutive games from that evening on – its longest streak since opening the 2011 season with a run of eight consecutive games scoring on the power play. The Irish now have at least one power play goal in 11 of its last 13 games. Notre Dame has scored 15 power play goals since the streak began on Jan. 10. Nationally, the 15 goals are the third-most during this span. Only Boston University (17), and Minnesota (16) have scored more power play goals since Jan. 10 than Notre Dame. Notre Dame’s conversion rate of 31.9 percent (15 of 47) is second nationally only to BU’s 32.1 percent (17 for 53). The Irish out-dueled the Terriers on the power play last weekend at BU’s Agganis Arena, going a combined two for six while BU was one for nine on the power play.
HINOSTROZA BULLDOZES BU:
Vince Hinostroza factored into all three of Notre Dame’s goals in Saturday night’s 3-2 upset win at No. 2/3 Boston University’s Agganis Arena. Hinostroza was a part of the behind the net cycle that led to Mario Lucia’s strike with 0.1 seconds remaining in the first period. The Notre Dame lead swelled to 2-0 early in the second period when Sam Herr scored a power play goal where Hinostroza helped move the puck around the offensive zone. Hinostroza scored the game-winning goal himself on a power play 1:45 into the third period. The sophomore Chicago Blackhawks draft pick leads Notre Dame with both 28 assists and 36 points this year. Since Jan. 31, Hinostroza is tied for first in the nation with both his 13 points and nine assists.
“VENI VIDI VICI” – VINNY:
Vince Hinostroza came to Maine, saw the ice and conquered the score sheet as he picked up three points and the Army ROTC first star of the game accolade in both of Notre Dame’s contests at Maine, Feb. 6-7. Hinostroza set up three goals in the 4-4 tie on Friday night, each of which either tied the game or gave the Irish the lead. It marked his second three-assist game of the year. No Notre Dame skater has had four assists in a game since Stephen Johns against Canisius on Dec. 29, 2010. Saturday night saw Hinostroza score twice and add an assist in Notre Dame’s 5-1 win. Hinostroza continued this run on Feb. 13 contributing to both Irish tallies (a goal and an assist), in a 2-0 win over No. 10 Providence. He went on to have a hand in all three goals during Notre Dame’s 3-2 win over No. 2/3 Boston University on Feb. 21. With 28 assists on the year, Hinostroza is third in Hockey East and tied for fourth in the nation. Within the league, only Jack Eichel (34) and Evan Rodrigues (30), both of Boston University, can top the Irish sophomore’s 28 helpers while Mike Reilly of Minnesota boasts 29.
Vince Hinostroza had an eight-game scoring streak snapped on Feb. 14, one which included five multiple-point games, but he has not slowed down much, including three points (a goal and two assists) in Saturday night’s 3-2 win at Boston University. Hinostroza has accumulated 19 points (five goals and 14 assists) since the streak began at UConn on Jan. 18. Over that span, he ranks second nationally in points, trailing only Boston University’s Evan Rodrigues (21). He is one point ahead of Terrier freshman phoneme Jack Eichel (18) since this run began. Hinostroza has been particularly effective on the power play. Since Jan. 18, 10 of Hinostroza’s 19 points have been recorded with a man-advantage, the most of any player nationally over this period.
LUCIA LIGHTS THE LAMP:
With 19 goals to his credit this winter, Mario Lucia stands tied for the Hockey East lead, matching Ahti Oksanen of Boston University. Lucia’s 19 goals tie for eighth in the nation. Lucia’s 19 goals on the year are the most by an Irish skater since Anders Lee’s 2012-13 team-leading sum of 20. With 26 points on his junior campaign, Lucia is tied for 19th in Hockey East.
NOTHING GROSS ABOUT IT:
Freshman defenseman Jordan Gross has made an immediate impact at both ends of the ice. His 23 points on the year (five goals and 18 assists) rank first in the nation among freshman defensemen and seventh in Hockey East among all rookies. Gross’ 18 assists are tied for seventh overall by a freshman of any position. Gross’s 18 assists are two ahead of the next closest freshman blueliners. His five goals on the year tie for fourth nationally for freshman defensemen. Gross has done this while maintaining a +9 rating, the second-best for Notre Dame behind only his usual defensive partner Robbie Russo’s +10.
A FUN FEBRUARY:
Notre Dame’s on-ice success has varied widely by month and the alternating rhythm has continued with a 3-1-2 record in February. After starting the season with a 5-2-0 mark in October, the Irish fell on hard times in November, turning in a 1-6-2 record. Notre Dame rebounded to go 3-1-0 in December, but slumped back in January, posting a 2-5-1 record which has proven to be a harbinger for a strong February.
JACKSON GETS NO. 400:
Head coach Jeff Jackson recorded the 400th victory of his career on Jan. 18 when Notre Dame beat UConn, 6-1, at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Jackson became the seventh active coach to reach this milestone, but has coached at least five fewer years than each of the six coaches ahead of him (BC’s Jerry York, Michigan’s Red Berenson, Minnesota’s Don Lucia, UNH’s Dick Umile, Mercyhurst’s Rick Gotkin and Quinnipiac’s Rand Pecknold). Jackson’s efficiency in winning hockey games is remarkable. With a minimum of five Division I seasons, he stands tied for first in the nation in career winning percentage at .660 and ranks third for averaging 25.25 wins per season.
RUSSO NAMED CAPTAIN:
Formalizing a leadership role that senior defenseman Robbie Russo has undertaken all season with his freshman-laden positional group, Notre Dame head hockey coach Jeff Jackson announced on Feb. 12 that the Westmont, Illinois native will serve as a team captain for the remainder of the 2014-15 season. Russo joined team captain Steven Fogarty and alternate captains Sam Herr and Peter Schneider in this new position guiding his peers. “Robbie’s been a leader for our team the whole season and I thought it was time that he got the opportunity to be recognized for that leadership,” Jackson said. “He’s done a great job with our young blue line. He’s had an All-America type of year, but it’s not just based on his performance. It’s based on the fact that he’s taken charge of this team and times, put them on his back at times and shown some character. His attitude has been extremely positive and he’s well-respected in the locker room.”
NINE WAS FINE:
Both Jordan Gross and Mario Lucia posted identical nine-game point scoring streaks which were both snapped on Saturday, Jan. 24 at Northeastern. The identical runs stand as the longest Notre Dame point scoring streaks since Ryan Thang recorded an 11-game streak from Feb. 9 to March 23, 2007. Gross and Lucia both contributed to the scoring on Dec. 5 at UMass and every game afterwards until the second night at Matthews Arena. Lucia had eight goals and three assists for 11 points over the run while Gross had 12 points, coming on three goals and nine assists.
EVANS SCORES, IRISH EYES SMILE:
The Irish notched the game’s first goal of their 2-2 tie at No. 2/3 Boston University on Feb. 20 when Jake Evans rushed up ice for an unassisted goal early in the second period. It should not come as a surprise that Notre Dame would take a point by the end of the night. The Irish have either won or tied every game in which the freshman winger has scored a goal, posting a 4-0-2 mark. No. 2 Boston University is the third ranked team to drop points to the Irish when Evans scores as he also tallied this season in a tie against No. 14 Vermont and a win over No. 6 Miami.
Freshman goaltender Cal Petersen recorded his third career shutout on Feb. 13 when he stopped 38 shots in a 2-0 win over No. 10 Providence. He becomes the first Notre Dame freshman goaltender to have three shutouts in his rookie year since David Brown had three in 2003-04. Petersen’s first shutout came on Oct. 25, when he kicked out all 23 shots he faced in a 7-0 win over Niagara. That shutout came in his third career start, as he joined a long line of recent Notre Dame goaltenders to get a shutout in their first three starts. Mike Johnson (2009) and Tom O’Brien (2008) recorded shutouts in their first career starts while Jordan Pearce (2006) and Brown (2003) did it in their second starts. Petersen joins Brad Phillips (2009) who recorded his first career shutout in his third start. For the season, Petersen is now 9-12-3 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage. Petersen’s three shutouts tie for third in the nation among freshmen.
Irish junior left wing Thomas DiPauli (Caldaro, Italy) chipped in a pair of assists in the 7-5 win over Massachusetts on December 5 and, at that early juncture of the season, already had career highs in both assists and points. DiPauli presently has 18 assists and 24 points this season. The speedy forward had just three goals and two assists for five points in 26 games during an injury-filled 2013-14 season. As a freshman, he had his previous best season with five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 41 games. Through 34 games this year, he is tied for fourth on the Notre Dame scoresheet with his 24 points. His 18 assists tie for 12th in Hockey East.
WE’RE VERY SOCIABLE:
Consistent with the ranking of many Notre Dame teams courtesy of its large national fan base, the Irish hockey team’s twitter account (@NDHockey) has the eighth-most followers of any college hockey team and the second-most in Hockey East.